High Sierra Fever

By ElvisNews.com / KeesDec 23, 2007
High Sierra Fever

Released on the Straight Arrow label is an audience-recording of Elvis’ May 7, 1973 midnight show. Does it give me fever?

 


Design

As we have become to expect from the Straight Arrow label the design is top notch. This CD comes in a deluxe package with a 16-page booklet, containing a collection of live- and candid photographs from April, May and June 1973, rare Lake Tahoe memorabilia and the disc looks like a menu card.

Overall the design has a very modern look with a touch of the seventies. Great images of `Elvis in an average shape according to some newspaper reports. The liner notes are complete and realistic; writing history as it (probably) was and placing this performance in it's right historical content, not buffing up the performance to something it never was.

Content

Only a few days after closing a tour which took him to Anaheim, Fresno, San Diego Spokane and Denver he landed in Lake Tahoe for a series of performances at the High Sierra Theatre of the Sahara Tahoe Hotel Casino. This series is perhaps best known for Elvis' special Mother's Day show on May 13, 1973. Also noteworthy were the riots due to the standard overbooking of the shows by the Hotel management. Usually about ten percent of the reserved tickets were not claimed ... but this was Elvis, so everybody showed up! A lesson in entertainment management :-)

The audio-quality is very good for an audience-recording; with a quality recording like this you really experience the concert from the audience.

As for the show itself the reviews varied. Due to the good conditions and the smaller showroom Elvis voice was in better shape and he had less "performance stress" than on the Vegas strip resulting in generally better performances. ``but the press also stated that "Elvis is some 30 pounds overweight, puffy, white faced... his voice sounded watery, weak and his song delivery was noted to be flabby with occasional dynamic great effort and no enthusiasm". `the fact that several shows were cancelled due to illness confirms this "picture"/.

For me both are true. I played this concert several times before writing this, not knowing what to make of it. . Somehow the concert didn't really catch me, I couldn't get really exited for the concert as a whole while on the other hand I could listen to it several times. Guess this shows Elvis is the greatest entertainer of his time, even entertaining fans with less than top notch shows.

This show is from May 1973, so kind of similar to the globally broadcasted Aloha show, and not all standards are throw-a-ways. Even “I Got A Woman / Amen” medley still has some inspiration (as a gospel should have ?) . The show does contain several highlights mostly the showstoppers “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”, “You Gave Me A Mountain", "What Now My Love", "Suspicious Minds – with a special mention for Ronnie Tutt’s performance, is he drumming or firing a riot-gun? – “I’ll Remember You” and "Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The question is if these songs are really special since Elvis could perform these very well no matter which shape or mood he was in.

As a bonus, an excerpt of "Surrender" and the seldom performed "It's Over", recorded during the Midnight Show the previous day were added, a nice addition to the documentation of this short engagement high in the Nevada dessert.

Conclusion

A top-notch package like this preserves history as it was perfectly; it deserves a better quality concert, both audio-wise as performance-wise.

Track listing:

01. Also Sprach Zarathustra (Theme from "2001 A Space Odyssey") - 02. Opening Vamp / C. C. Rider - 03. I Got A Woman / Amen (medley) - 04. Love Me Tender - 05. Steamroller Blues - 06. You Don't Have To Say You Love Me - 07. You Gave Me A Mountain - 08. Love Me - 09. Blue Suede Shoes - 10. Heartbreak Hotel - 11. Long Tall Sally / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (medley) - 12. I'm Leavin' - 13. Hound Dog (slow & fast) - 14. Fever - 15. What Now My Love - 16. Suspicious Minds - 17. Band Introductions - 18. I'll Remember You - 19. I Can't Stop Loving You - 20. An American Trilogy - 21. A Big Hunk O'Love - 22. Bridge Over Troubled Water - 23. Can't Help Falling In Love - 24. Closing Vamp.

Special bonus (recorded in Lake Tahoe, May 06, 1973 Midnight show):
25. Surrender (excerpt) / It's Over.

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Reactions

Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 25, 2008report abuse
Hey, '75, everyone needs a nickname, Champ, I mean, "Kevin." There's not much one can do with "Mature."

It's not about "having a ball" (nothing wrong with that) but if a label consistently pumps out high-quality releases (be they audience recorded or otherwise) , then as collectors (which is what site is really about), we need to know that they can buy it with confidence.

I sense you have a bias against audience tapes -which is not uncommon although I think it misses the point of showcasing and documenting each of his shows in a truly deluxe fashion. Being arguably the greatest singer / entertainer of the 20th century, I think his legacy deserves nothing less.

It is assumed that such releases (particularly those with nothing like a ripping of the pants before a then-historic audience of 60,000 people as with the equally-well-done "ROCK BACK THE CLOCK") that those who prefer cherry-picking their import purchases will take a pass on some -and that's fine.

But let it be told that this label delivers interesting product each and every time. I don't pretend that I can afford each one but like most of us, I have quite a wish-list I will work in 2008. Bravo, Straight Arrow again!
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 25, 2008report abuse
Matty? oh i see that was a(wait you wouldnt do that would you?)um anyways,if your into these releases than have a ball,im sure im not stopping anyone from buying them,i only biy audiance recordings when they have something rare in them,but for others go for it,i dont care! have fun gang! (kevin)
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 24, 2008report abuse
Well, I'm glad you concede the "gold standard" of quality that marks every "Straight Arrow" release, Matty!

I wouldn't think that *every* release would be a "must-buy" for you but we can dream, can't we? Given extra money, there are quite a lot of titles that I still need to get as it's been a feast of quality releases - many inspired by the standard set even on audience recordings by "Straight Arrow." It's as if folks can't get away with slapping together a CD anymore -and thank god for that!

There's not much to do about his career choices now, although its been said he was more relaxed in Tahoe than in Vegas and I think this release is part of that argument. I recall the liner notes discussing this.

Finally, Elvis had no idea that 35 years later, there would be a market for virtually each and every concert , to be heard on something called "compact discs" and traded and bought with conspiratorial tones by obsessive, gleeful collectors!

So his set-list didn't have to change every night - on most nights, the audience was packed with fans seeing him for the first time -demanding and expecting to see the big hits! It's been said that 1/3 of his songs changed from year to year anyway. I do get your point though: many songs were never covered live...
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 4, 2008report abuse
While i cant argue about the quality that comes from labels like straight arrow,it doesnt make everything a must buy for me,every release should come with a booklet that details what the cd's contens are,i also have the oppion that Elvis should have been anywere but vegas and tahoe in 73,and the lack of a changing song list puzzles me,surely people would have liked many of his biggest hits in concert outside of the 50's tunes!
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2007report abuse
Kees, that's a very fair review that I can generally agree with, although I would just add that as usual, "Straight Arrow" packs a wallop by the care and quality they put into the production.

That is, they have made this a very listenable audience recording and have really again gone beyond the call of duty with a beautiful booklet of informed liner notes (including that negative review from the time period) and great photos. This measure of quality has made Straight Arrow an automatic "must-buy" label.

I agree that there is a certain coasting quality to the performance -no surprise given the heights he so recently had hit with "Aloha From Hawaii." Instead of playing Tokyo, London, West Berlin or Sydney, here he was again helping to pay the the Colonel's gambling debts.

That said, for the completists among us like myself, this is a top-quality buy and a great listen. Even with without going full roar, Elvis could lick anyone and that comes through even on this cleaned-up and restored tape.

P.S. Good point about Tutt on "Suspicious Minds" - I have to think it's how he kept himself from being bored by the unhip, M.O.R. / Casino grind Elvis had quickly re-developed...He has said as much in recent interviews.
You Dont Know Me (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 24, 2007report abuse
I felt that in performance Elvis certainly for any FANS present at the show, here was Their Man giving a basic, but high level and satisfying performance, much more so than back in Vegas 3 months ago in 1973.

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